Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced what most people were already expecting and that is the children will not return to school in the 2019-2020 school year.
The responsibility for education now falls entirely to the parents of the state.
The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has led the Governor to close the schools to protect the health of the children. The move protects the children of Alabama from catching COVID-19, but it creates enormous challenges for their education. The schools are supposed to reopen sometime in August, but even that is in doubt at this point.
While no one wants Alabama students and their families to get sick, they also need to learn the skills that they were supposed to be learning in school. Eight to nine weeks of instruction are now effectively lost for all time.
This is a challenge for parents who want their children to be all they can be, but it also allows parents to take more control of their children’s education than the public school format allowed.
The Bible can serve as a reader. That might not be ideal; but reading is like learning to shoot a basketball, hit a baseball, or ride a bike it takes practice. Set time aside every day for reading. Whether the internet is available or not, reading out loud is a useful way to improve a child’s reading skills and allows the parent to gauge the child’s skill level.
Another time tested resource is the Dick and Jane reading series. Generations of children have learned how to read with this widely available series of books that are available in almost any bookstore and at some Wal-Marts.
There are a plethora of books available for beginning readers. The best known are the Dr. Seuss books. There is more information as well as activities at their website:
Math is an area where parents probably need to focus efforts on. The Alabama public schools are notoriously bad at teaching math. In recent standardized testing of fourth and eighth graders, Alabama scored last among the 50 states.
Math facts are best memorized and flashcards and math bingo games are useful resources to have to improve basic math skills. Multiplication, addition, subtraction, and division tables can all be printed out and written and rewritten over and over again. Counting out money and making change is another skill that can easily be taught at home and at the grocery store.
As children advance into higher grades and study: long multiplication, long division, integers, fractions, the metric system, geometry, algebra etc. is probably takes a textbook. Those can also be bought as e-books and as workbooks. There are many online resources also available.
Many students need speech and language therapy, which they get at school. Unfortunately, the children aren’t in school so don’t have access to those resources. This site provides a list of links to those services to children that need them.
NASA is providing educational education plans for kids on their website during the forced national economic shutdown.
The Georgia Public Broadcasting System has resources for teaching Black History.
The Alabama Bicentennial Page has Alabama History resources.
Alabama Public Television has many resources to help parents transition to becoming parent and teacher on their website.
Teaching your children yourself also adds the benefit of being able to teach and share your faith. Many Churches offer online resources for parents eager to educate their children. With most Churches having shut down their Sunday schools and Parish Schools of Religion (PSR)for fear of COVID-19 the only religious education about faith and God will likely come from the parents during this time.
Catholic Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville recommends for children: “Teaching Catholic Kids.”
The site has arts, crafts and activities for home & school inspired by faith as well as a long list of links for parents looking for lessons and activities for their children as they shelter in place.
Alabama based EWTN also has resources for parents during these times on the website.
Landmark Baptist Church is offering their own home school curriculum.
Gov. Ivey has ordered Alabama’s many school systems to come up with a plan for the home learning program by April 6. What that will be and what value that will have, if any, no one knows at this time; but will likely vary wildly from system to system. E-Learning would be one option, but many Alabamians do not have broadband; thus the fear is that by adopting an E-learning program would result in the haves – those with broadband and a caring parent excelling while the have not – those with no broadband and a lackadaisical uninvolved parent would fall further behind.
No one knows when school will begin and what that will look like when it does happen, but it will take a commitment on the part of parents and students to continue to build educational achievement during this crisis.